As far as popular morning beverages go, coffee and tea definitely reign supreme. But when it comes to health benefits, which one takes the crown? Unsurprisingly, it's an oft-debated topic—both coffee and tea lovers have a steadfast allegiance to their caffeinated beverage of choice. It goes without saying that it takes a dietitian to deliver an unbiased verdict.
Enter Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author of Flat Belly Diet. "It's a good question because it seems like every day there's news about the health benefits of one or the other, but you never see the two compared," she writes for Health. "Both of these uniquely healthy pick-me-ups have their own long list of health pros—and cons."
While Sass recommends "sticking to what you're partial to," the list of tea's health benefits alone tip the scale in favor of the ancient beverage. It's packed with antioxidants that help fight inflammation, it's associated with anti-aging, it boosts brain health, and it significantly lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease. What's more, green tea has been said to boost metabolism if consumed regularly (we love David's Tea's Kale Matcha).
Of course, coffee boasts its own list of health benefits: It's also packed with antioxidants, it aids in digestion, and has been shown to cleanse the liver and protect against liver cancer. The "cons" column is what puts coffee in hot water—it's a known diuretic, which means it flushes water from your system, leaving you dehydrated. The higher caffeine content makes it generally harder on your system and can leave you feeling jittery, anxious, and overstimulated. What's more, it can easily upset your stomach if consumed quickly or irregularly.
The optional add-ins for coffee are also considerably less healthy than those associated with tea (honey and a slice of lemon). Between the sugar, syrups, milk, and whipped cream, your morning beverage can easily pack as many calories as a filling lunch if you're not careful. "Coffee has the edge when it comes to stimulation, but tea’s all around health benefits make it a winner," writes New Scientist of the common debate. It all boils down to what is more important to you.
If no amount of scientific evidence will convince you to kick your coffee habit, read up on the healthiest way to take your coffee instead!